The Thrill of Canoe Fishing: Exploring Streams and Reconnecting with Nature

Imagine a summer fishing experience like no other. Picture yourself surrounded by the serene beauty of nature, far from the chaos of pleasure boaters, jet skiers, and fishing tournaments. Canoe fishing on country streams and small rivers provides a tranquil escape, where you can truly immerse yourself in the peacefulness of the great outdoors.

Embracing Solitude: Canoe Fishing Alone

In the scorching summer months, when temperatures become unbearable and lakes are teeming with “summer people,” finding solace in clear water river fishing becomes a necessity. In Tennessee, numerous streams and creeks offer a respite from the noisy world, providing an opportunity to connect with nature on a personal level. As you paddle through these crystal-clear waters, you’ll encounter majestic deer, kingfishers, eagles, otters, beavers, turkeys, and foxes. And let’s not forget about the river smallmouth bass, spots, and largemouth bass that call these streams home.

Small Boats, Big Adventures

When it comes to river fishing, there are different types of watercraft to choose from. You may opt for a fishing canoe, a versatile jon boat, or a nimble kayak. Each vessel has its own advantages and disadvantages, making them suitable for different situations and preferences.

The Versatility of Jon Boats

Jon boats excel on larger rivers and small lakes, offering stability with their flat bottoms. However, maneuvering them in tight quarters can be challenging. To combat this, outfitting them with a trolling motor or small gas-powered motor proves beneficial, especially when gusty winds are at play.

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Canoes: The Stream Fishing Champions

Canoes shine on streams, particularly those found in Tennessee, where “run-and-gun” fishing is the preferred technique. These streams feature a dynamic environment, transitioning constantly from pools to runs and riffles, with current breaks and eddies scattered throughout. As an experienced Bass Bum®, you’ll float downstream, strategically stopping at gravel bars. From there, you’ll leave your canoe behind, walking or wading to position yourself just ahead of the pool, ensuring you don’t spook the smallmouth bass lurking beneath. Remember, the best bass often lurk at the tail of the pool, where the water runs out.

Kayaks: A Solo Nature Adventure

Kayaks offer another option for fishing streams, particularly those with consistently deeper water. If you enjoy solo fishing and crave a harmonious connection with nature, kayaks may be your vessel of choice. However, keep in mind that kayaks can leave you with a wet backside, and if you’re not a fan of cold water or struggle with mobility, they may not be the best fit. But don’t worry, we’ll cover jon boats and kayaks in more detail on our website.

The Perfect Canoe: Size, Design, and Material Matters

Not all canoes are created equal when it comes to fishing. For bass fishing in streams, canoes between 13 and 16 feet in length are ideal. Remember, the wider the canoe, the more stable it becomes, making it great for fishing. Look for canoes with a keel, sufficient end-to-end curvature (rocker) for enhanced stability, and a square stern, which allows for easy attachment of a small outboard motor.

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Canoe materials vary, with wood and aluminum being common choices. Wooden canoes, while functional and often viewed as works of art, can be heavy and challenging to maneuver in skinny water. Aluminum canoes, although sturdy, tend to be noisy, startling wary river smallmouth bass. Stones are inexplicably drawn to aluminum canoes, clinging to them like magnets. Canoes made of Kevlar, foam covered with polyethylene, fiberglass, or foam sandwiched between layers of vinyl and plastic provide the perfect combination of strength, abrasion resistance, and lightweight construction, enhancing the pleasure of canoe fishing on streams and small rivers.

Must-Have Accessories for Canoe Fishing

Equipping yourself with the right accessories can greatly enhance your canoe fishing experience. Here are a few items you shouldn’t leave home without:

  • Paddles: Don’t forget your primary paddle and a backup in case of emergencies.
  • Anchors: An anchor (or two) will help you maintain your position in the water.
  • Waterproof Bags: Keep your valuable belongings safe from water damage with waterproof bags. Protect your camera, wallet, watch, cell phone, and lunch, ensuring they stay dry even if you accidentally tip over.
  • Rod Rack: A rod rack makes it convenient to store and access your fishing rods.
  • Fishing Vest: If you enjoy “run-and-gun” fishing, a vest with multiple pockets will be your best friend, providing easy access to all your essentials.

Downsized Tackle for Stream Fishing

When it comes to tackle selection, consider downsizing your gear for stream fishing. While many anglers advocate for ultralight tackle, opting for light or medium-light rods can improve your hook sets and casting accuracy. A rod between 5’6″ and 6′ in length will help you navigate tight quarters with ease. As for fishing line, 6lb or 8lb test provides the confidence and strength needed to hook and land river smallmouth bass. While some argue that heavier line may be more visible to wary bass, it’s better to secure a catch than risk being broken off.

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For my canoe fishing adventures, I rely on three St.Croix spinning rods: a 5’6″ MF, a 6′ LF, and a 6′ MLF. Paired with a Symetre 2500FJ, Shimano Symetre 1000FJ, and ABU Garcia Cardinal 500 ALBI spinning reel, these setups have helped me reel in countless memorable catches.

Lure Selection: Small Baits, Big Success

River bass are known for their voracious appetites due to the constant energy they expend fighting the current. While they won’t hesitate to strike at larger baits, smaller lures tend to attract more attention. Experiment with small spinnerbaits, in-line spinners, crankbaits (when fished across the current), grubs, plastic lizards, tubes, and crayfish imitators to entice river bass into biting.

Canoe fishing on streams offers a unique opportunity to escape the chaos of big water fishing and reconnect with nature. The thrill of exploring pristine waters, encountering diverse wildlife, and catching river smallmouth bass is an experience every angler should indulge in. So grab your fishing canoe, discover your favorite stream, and immerse yourself in the beauty and serenity of nature. If you’re ready for the adventure, grab your paddle and head to UpStreamPaddle, your ultimate guide to canoe fishing.